While Canadians are drinking less beer overall, the market for craft beers is rapidly growing. Statistics Canada reports that over the past decade beer consumption has declined in favour of wine. But the really big change is that craft beers, or microbrews, now account for six per cent of the market. Some analysts suggest the number could triple in the coming years. A big change from three decades ago when the market was practically non-existent.
“Since we opened in October, it has been incredibly busy,” Conrad Gmoser, head brewer and co-owner of the B.C.-based Brassneck Brewery says “It has been really great.”
Craft beer is made in smaller batches and comes in a variety of flavours from citrus to coffee. The Brewers Association of Canada defines a microbrewer as one that produces no more than 250,000 hectolitres of beer annually.
A hectolitres equals two kegs of draft beer or 12 24-packs.
The Liquor Distribution Branch in British Columbia said craft beer sales have increased 38 per cent over the past year. In Ontario, market share has tripled since 2002 and it continues to grow at around 10 per cent per year. This happens as sales by the large domestic brewers stay rather flat.
Shae de Jaray, co-founder of Deep Cove Brewers and Distillers says the growth is because “People are looking for something else than just a basic lager or pale ale and are really trying to find out what their flavour is.”
He added, “Not only is it becoming big, it is becoming a staple.”
Currently B.C. has about 80 microbreweries, but that number is expected to grow to more than 100 by next year. Ontario has 110.